How to make lemonade out of the lemon that was 2021

by Nov 12, 2021

As we look back on the year (or two) that was, it’s easy to go down that negative path of regret and frustration about what could have been.

Perhaps you didn’t have the thriving social life that you hoped for on campus. Maybe you barely stepped into a lecture theatre or tutorial. And perhaps you didn’t get the work experience, internship or dream job that you were aspiring to.

But I’m here to tell you that there are some positives that you can take away from this year, as well as skills and experiences that will add value to your future life and career. Let’s make some lemonade.


1. You’ve earned the right to add resilience as a key skill

Resilience is being able to cope with change and continue to evolve in positive ways. It’s not possible to prevent uncertain or stressful situations and 2021 has most certainly shown us that. But you have strengthened your capacity to deal with these challenges and come out the other side.

Whether it be the challenges of online learning, finding motivation or social isolation, you have shown that you can adapt, be flexible and learn from difficult situations.

In the context of work, resilience is more important than ever. Everybody will at some point receive critical feedback or experience a failure at work. And in the virtual environment, we have had to deal with new challenges and complexities in engaging with each other.

Demonstrating examples of your resilience to a potential employer will give them confidence that you can overcome challenges in the workplace in a positive way.


2. Your online professionalism is now top notch

Whilst Zoom and Teams have been our lifeline to continue to study and work, it has also blurred the lines between our home and professional lives. As the situation looks more positive and we start thinking about more on campus and face-to-face interactions, let’s remember that these technologies are not going away and will continue to play an important role in the future.

We all started out making the classic online mistakes: dirty clothes hanging up behind us, flatmate wandering past in a (very small) towel, dogs barking, kids barging in, and let’s not forget, “you’re on mute”. But we’ve spent enough time online to learn that professionalism goes a long way in promoting our personal brand.

Here are just a few online tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Put your camera on – we were never able to ‘turn video off’ when we were in a room together.
  • If you can’t guarantee a clean or private room, set up a professional background.
  • Dress for the meeting (even if you still have PJs on the bottom half).
  • Avoid distractions and don’t work on something else in another window, people can always tell.

I’m sure you have a whole lot of tips you could add to the list. Polishing these virtual skills now will go a long way in promoting your personal brand and reputation in the future. 


3. You’ve learned so much about yourself

 In this crazy couple of years of the pandemic, with all of its challenges, we’ve all learned some truths about ourselves. And even if you don’t have all the answers, it may have raised some important questions:

  • Should you explore new career paths?
  • Do you need to reset goals and expectations?
  • What is most important to you and what should you let go of?
  • What stimulates your enthusiasm, productivity and motivation?

As a result of tackling these questions, you should be in a better position to know what you want and what you need to do. There’s a feeling that it’s time to explore your curiosities and new possibilities, and that can only be a positive outcome from this very difficult time.  


We all deserve a high five (and a hug) for what we’ve endured over the last year or more. Now it’s time to dust ourselves off, take on board those learnings, and get excited about applying them to our future. Get that lemonade stand ready because you have a high-quality product to offer the world – you!  


Featured image courtesy of Pexels

Candy Jenkins

Candy Jenkins

Careers Consultant

Candy Jenkins is the Careers Consultant for the Business School and Graduate Research School. Collaborating with academics, students and industry, Candy’s focus is to embed career education into the curriculum. Candy is passionate about helping students to understand their unique skills and strengths, and explore their career options. Her background prior to UTS is in human resources and career development with extensive global experience in banking, IT, telco, and FMCG.